March 26, 2010
TAMPA, Fla. – Junior right-hander Brian Dupra (Rochester, N.Y.) notched his fourth straight quality start and senior Ryan Connolly (Binghamton, N.Y.) reached base safely (via base hit, walk, or hit-by-pitch) for the 33rd consecutive game, but it was all overshadowed by the right arm of USF starter Randy Fontanez, who tossed a no-hitter to lead the Bulls to a 4-0 victory over the Irish Friday night at Red McEwen Field.
Fontanez punched out a career-high 12 in the third no-hitter in USF history and the first since Mark Reed hurled a perfect game on May 9, 1992 against Charlotte. It was also the first career complete-game shutout for Fontanez (1-4), who allowed just two walks on the night and threw 119 pitches. The Bulls had been 0-5 in Fontanez’s starts this season and still are scoring just 3.17 runs per game in his starts.
The Irish (8-13, 0-1) refused to go down easy in the ninth inning, forcing 21 pitches from the junior before the 27th out. Senior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) walked with one down in the inning, and one out later, Connolly reached by way of catcher’s interference for the second time in the game to put two runners on. Head coach Dave Schrage then sent Casey Martin (Chesterton, Ind.), the top Irish hitter at .414, to the plate to try to solve Fontanez, but the senior went down swinging to end the ballgame and preserve the clean slate for Fontanez.
Connolly and Mills were the only Irish players to reach base in the game, with Connolly trotting to first three times (he also walked in the first inning and reached via catcher’s interference in the fourth).
Dupra (2-2) worked 6.0 innings, yielding a pair of earned runs (three total) on nine hits. He struck out four and walked just one, but went to a three-ball count nine times and tossed 122 pitches. Over his last four outings, Dupra’s ERA is 2.73; it is the best four-start stretch of his career in terms of ERA (he had not registered more than two consecutive quality starts entering this season).
Sophomore Joe Spano (Verona, N.J.) worked a scoreless inning of relief in his 12th appearance (he is on pace to come close to the school record of 37 appearances set by Mike Coffey in 1989), while sophomore Will Hudgins (Richmond, Va.) yielded a home run to Daniel Rockhold to cap off the game’s scoring in the eighth inning.
Junior Carlin, Rockhold, and Chad Taylor all had two hits for USF (9-13, 1-0), which put a runner on base in every inning, stranding nine. Notre Dame did have Todd Brazeal’s number, though, as the first baseman struck out four times for the golden sombrero.
Shortstop Jonathan Koscso gave the Bulls an early 1-0 lead, smacking a no-doubt home run to left on full-count pitch with one out in the first; the dinger was the first allowed by Dupra in 42.2 innings (218 batters faced during that stretch).
The Bulls quickly added another run in the second, as Carlin drove a 3-2 pitch to the wall in right center for a triple to lead off the frame and trotted home when catcher Eric Sim followed with a single up the middle. Taylor’s base hit put two runners on with one out, but a fly out and a fielder’s choice ended the threat, keeping the score 2-0.
Dupra nearly escaped unscathed in the third inning, but the Bulls tacked on another run, as Carlin drove home Sam Mende from third with a two-out infield single. Mende singled with one out, stole second, and advanced to third when Cameron McConnell’s (Bannockburn, Ill.) throw sailed into center. Dupra fanned Brazeal for the second out and induced a ground ball from Mende, but second baseman Frank Desico (Cleveland, Ohio) was shaded up the middle and was only able to knock the ball down after ranging far to his left.
A much-needed eight-pitch fourth inning proved to be a good sign for Dupra (after throwing 25, 23, and 24 pitches in the first three innings, respectively), as he held the Bulls off the scoreboard for the remainder of his outing.
It looked as though McConnell would get the first hit of the night for the Irish in the eighth inning, but his smash to third ricocheted off of Rockhold and right to Koscso at short, who tossed out the Irish backstop for the final out of the inning. Fontanez made it easy on his defense in the ninth, inducing a pair of strikeouts and a comebacker to the mound in the final inning of his gem.
Due to the threat of inclement weather, the final game of the series has been moved up a day, as the two teams will now play a doubleheader on Saturday (3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.). A pair of lefties will face off in the first game in Irish sophomore Steve Sabatino (1-2, 3.38 ERA) and USF junior Andrew Barbosa (1-1, 3.23 ERA), while game two pits senior Eric Maust (0-1, 4.63 ERA) versus USF lefty Teddy Kaufman (3-1, 3.54 ERA).
— ND —